Nursing Home Justice Blog

What to Do if a Loved One Dies in a Nursing Home

Written By:

Attorney Mac Hester

Date Posted:

October 30, 2023

Navigating life after a loved one’s death isn’t easy. From administrative tasks, such as making funeral arrangements, to ordering a death certificate to aid in a lawsuit, you could have a lot on your plate in the days and weeks following your relative’s passing. However, knowing the steps to take following your relative’s death could help smooth the process and allow your family space to grieve your loss. 

Steps to Take After a Relative Dies in a Nursing Home

If your loved one dies in a nursing home, here’s what you should do:

Inform the Nursing Staff

An attentive nursing home would know of your loved one’s death immediately or shortly after. However, short-staffed nursing homes often neglect patients, and you might have been the one to discover your relative’s passing.

If this is the case, you must inform the nursing home immediately. They should handle most of the steps that follow, including pronouncing the death, preparing organ donation paperwork, and making arrangements to transport the body.

Make Funeral Arrangements

Your loved one might have already written burial instructions in their will. If so, refer to your relative’s will when making funeral arrangements. The decisions you might make when arranging the funeral include transferring the body to a new location, burial or cremation services, and plans for details of the memorial service.

Seek Emotional Support

Dealing with the death of a loved one may feel unbearable. You may struggle mentally and emotionally as you cope with this reality. Seeking professional help from a therapist or qualified professional could be highly beneficial.

What to Do If Your Relative’s Death Seems Suspicious

It may or may not be a shock to find out that your loved one has passed. They might have struggled with a severe illness or were advanced in years.

However, you might have noticed signs that your loved one’s death was unnatural. If you suspect the nursing home was responsible for your loved one’s death, do the following:

Order a Death Certificate

The Colorado Coroners Office works independently from the nursing home and law enforcement agencies to investigate recent deaths. Their investigation produces a death certificate detailing the cause and manner of death and the time of death.

This document is vital to your wrongful death case and could help prove the nursing home’s negligence. For example, the nursing home might have claimed the death was from natural causes, but the coroner’s investigation could reveal that the resident was malnourished or suffered broken bones, which might indicate a fall had occurred.

Take Photos & Videos of the Facility

You might suspect the nursing home was negligent just by looking around the facility. Cluttered floors, poorly lit hallways, unsanitary environments, and other deplorable living conditions could all point to the nursing home’s lack of care and attention to their residents.

Take photos and videos of these conditions, especially your relative’s room, if you can. Your loved one might have tripped over loose cords or fallen walking down a dark hallway. This evidence and more could strengthen your case.

Gather Eyewitness Testimony

Not all staff members abuse and neglect their residents. On-duty nurses might have witnessed your loved one’s below-average care or saw another staff member abuse them. Talking to staff members and gathering witness testimony could further prove your loved one’s death. Additionally, other residents could testify regarding your relative’s living conditions.

Examine the Care of Other Residents

If abuse or neglect caused your loved one’s death, they’re likely not the only one to have suffered. Due to the nursing staff shortage and greedy management companies, the resident-to-staff ratio is entirely lopsided. There are far too many patients for staff members to keep up with.

Because of this, many residents suffer from malnutrition, infections, bedsores, falls, and other conditions. Pay attention to how other residents are being treated, as it could provide insight into your loved one’s treatment leading up to their unexpected death.

File a Wrongful Death Claim with Nursing Home Justice

If you feel that your loved one died from unnatural causes, you should hire a nursing home abuse lawyer. Your attorney can investigate your case and work with expert witnesses to discover the true cause of your loved one’s death.

They will help you recover total compensation through a wrongful death claim to ensure you’re taken care of financially during this difficult time. Contact Nursing Home Justice by calling (970) 493-1866 today to schedule your free consultation and gain respect for your family.

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